Busy in Mankato
managers for college hockey teams are busy guys. And goalie coaches
for college hockey teams are busy guys. With that in mind, former
Minnesota State, Mankato goalie Des Christopher might be the busiest
guy in the sport, serving as both the equipment manager and men’s
and women’s goalie coach for his alma mater.
Des to keep a diary of two days last week, for a look at the life
of the hardest working man in the WCHA:
9 a.m. I’m
on the ice at All Seasons Arena, near the MSU campus, for a one-on-one
goalie session with Kyle Nixon. Kyle and I spend 20 minutes covering
different drills, answering questions and providing information
about what’s working and what’s not.
10 a.m. Another
one-on-one on-ice goalie session, this time with Laura Brennan,
a freshman on the women’s team.
Christopher (right) counsels former Minnesota State, Mankato,
goaltender Jason Jensen.
Laura skates off as Jon Volp hits the ice for his own 20-minute
session. This trio will be it for the day, as women’s All
American Shari Vogt and freshman Chris Clark from the men’s
team had their sessions earlier in the week.
Noon to 4
p.m. When I’m not on the ice, I’m in the equipment
room getting sticks, shafts, blades, sweaters, supplies and the
skate sharpener ready for the trip to Denver. The airlines all
have weight restrictions that I’ve gotten to know quite
well, and I have to pack accordingly. I have two assistant managers
in Mankato, Matt Sartor and Matt St. Marie, who help out a great
deal with preparation for the trip.
to 2:30 p.m. The men’s team has a full practice. Most of
the time I’m on the ice with the team, working with all
4 p.m. to
6 p.m. I’m back in the equipment room sharpening skates,
making minor repairs to skates, doing laundry, and finishing up
whatever needs to be done for a Thursday morning departure from
the rink for Minneapolis. By 6 p.m., I’m about done for
the day save for Goalie Club inquiries, which is a seemingly never-ending
I am an instructor
with the Goalie Club (www.thegoalieclub.com;
866-NO-GOALS), which has locations in eight states. I work at
our 10 locations in Minnesota, as well as in Iowa and Florida.
My partner is former UMass Lowell goalie Craig Lindsay, who partnered
with Minnesota Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson while in college.
we offer classroom instruction, Video analysis, visualization
techniques, theory, dryland training specific to goaltending,
as well as full on-ice instruction. We are a year round program
that follows the successes of our students and offers advice to
parents whose goalies are part of the club. Our motto is “You'll
never be alone between the pipes again!”
7 a.m. I arrive
at All Seasons Arena. I have everything ready for the departure,
but I double check everything one last time.
We load bus with our team and support staff.
8 a.m. We
depart for Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP), and
have breakfast on the bus. During the bus ride I make and return
phone calls that apply for The Goalie Club and take in parts of
“Top Gun,” which has been supplied by freshman Travis
We arrive at MSP and transport all extra equipment, along with
a selected group of players, to check in. I have keys available
for anything that is locked for airport security to screen if
We’re wheels up en route to Denver. In flight I take notes
for The Goalie Club and do some reading.
We arrive at DIA, get the equipment and load the bus for Magness
At the rink, we meet Lee Greseth, the Denver equipment manager.
From him we get a locker room key and pucks for our skate that
day. Lee does a great job setting up the visitors’ locker
room for our arrival. They supply anything we need (tape, shampoo,
soap, towels, etc.) and he has a skate riveter available if I
need it. This is consistent with every road trip we make. The
host equipment manager sets the room up for the visiting team.
We unpack gear, set up the sharpener and the sticks.
We bus to the hotel for an hour of rest. We stay at the Marriott
in Denver, which is a very nice place. They have the best breakfast
and best beds in the league. It’s about 10-25 minutes from
the rink depending on traffic. On Thursday and Friday we face
more traffic than Saturday, of course. While the team rests, I
work on finishing my mailings for The Goalie Club that I will
send out on Monday.
We bus to rink for the evening skate.
p.m. During the team skate, I take the ice to work with the goalies
and the team.
I align skates for morning sharpening and fix any stick issues
that need attention before the Friday morning skate. I drop off
team laundry at DU laundry services a few doors down from our
dressing room and team and support staff departs for supper at
a nearby Outback Steakhouse.
We board the bus for a short ride from the restaurant to the hotel.
We arrive back at hotel and check and return e-mails from Goalie
entire day I have my phone available answer any calls from equipment
suppliers, Greseth or anyone pertaining to MSU or The Goalie Club
with questions about camps, locations, fees, etc. At long last,
my day is complete.
Great Weekend Getaway
Cloud State at Wisconsin (Fri.-Sat.)
Both teams are seemingly back on track after January
swoons. The Huskies have snapped off four in a row (albeit
against somewhat lesser competition in Michigan Tech and
Bemidji State) while the Badgers are coming off an emotional
home sweep over North Dakota. But the Badgers have had a
week off which was either a chance to get rested and healthy,
or a momentum killer. The Huskies beat Wisconsin twice in
October. With the Badgers playing much better of late, it’d
be hard to predict the Huskies matching that feat this time.
But with playoff positioning well underway and these points
vital if either team hopes to avoid that Thursday night
play-in game in St. Paul, the outcome of these two is anyone’s
You’re There: When you think of the state of Wisconsin,
things like beer, cheese and sausage come to mind. They’ve
got all three in abundant quantities at State Street Brats.
For those of you that are geographically (or otherwise)
challenged, it’s located on State Street, not far
from the foot of Bascom Hill.
Minnesota Duluth’s power play. In
the 60 seasons of varsity hockey at UMD, the Bulldogs had
never beaten arch-rival Minnesota four times in one campaign.
Last weekend, UMD’s special teams scored six power
play goals in 10 man-advantage situations, en route to 6-1
and 4-1 wins. Of such efforts is history made.
the UMD Penalty Box (the student fan section
at the DECC) for getting, ahem, swept up in the excitement
a little too early. On Saturday, Luke Stauffacher’s
empty net goal with less than 12 seconds to play clinched
a 4-1 win for the Bulldogs, and brought a rain of cheap
brooms down onto the ice from the student section. Apparently,
the students picked up more than 30 brooms at a local dollar
store only to discard them onto the ice. While we’re
not against a good celebration, waiting another 12 seconds
to celebrate the season sweep over Minnesota would have
been a more prudent idea. An additional thumbs down to Gopher
defenseman Keith Ballard, who threw one of the brooms back
over the glass. And kudos to referee Don Adam, who dropped
the puck and had the teams play the final seconds with the
brooms still on the ice, instead of making players wait
for a lengthy cleanup.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
Minnesota hopes to move up from its current fifth-place
spot in the final weeks of the regular season, the Gophers may
have gotten a big break recently. On Wednesday, a full two weeks
ahead of schedule, team captain Grant Potulny got medical clearance
to return to full-contact practice and worked out with the team.
There are reports that he may make his return to the team lineup
for the weekend series with Alaska Anchorage.
After Minnesota scored just two goals last weekend, an offensive
boost might be just what the Gophers need.
was Sioux vs. Sioux in Syracuse a few nights
ago, when former North Dakota offensive star Lee Goren scored
a pair against former North Dakota goaltending star Karl Goehring.
Goren, the MVP of the 2000 Frozen Four, skates for the San Antonio
Rampage of the AHL, while Goehring minds the net for the Syracuse
Crunch. Goren’s team won the game 6-3, but afterward Goren
told reporters he was taking his former teammate out for dinner.
It was, apparently, the least he could do.
are apparently quick to snap up tickets in the State of Hockey.
With three weeks left in the regular season, both Minnesota
and St. Cloud State are averaging more
than 100% capacity at their respective arenas. The Gophers have
seen an average crowd of 10,068 in the 10,000-seat Mariucci Arena,
while Huskies fans have packed the 5,763-seat National Hockey
Center to the tune of 6,156 per game.
four games versus Minnesota State, Mankato this
season, Denver came away with a 2-1-1 mark, but
getting to above .500 vs. the Mavericks was a wild process. The
teams combined for 47 goals in their four meetings (a 4-4 tie,
an 8-7 Mavs win, a 7-1 Pioneers win and a 9-7 Pioneers win). By
contrast, in the 1998-99 season, Alaska Anchorage scored
a total of 45 goals in 28 WCHA games.
their current last-place standing, Michigan Tech
apparently towers over Alaska Anchorage. After
last weekend’s sweep at Sullivan Arena, the Huskies have
now won six in a row versus the Seawolves, which is UAA’s
longest current losing streak versus any WCHA team. So they’ve
got that going for them in Houghton, which is nice.
Anchorage visits Minnesota this weekend.
The Seawolves haven’t won there in a long time. In fact,
they haven’t even played there in a long time. The Seawolves
last visit to Mariucci Arena for a game was in October of 2000,
when Seawolves coach John Hill was behind the Gophers bench as
Don Lucia’s top assistant. Their last win In Minneapolis
was on Valentine’s Day 1999, in Doug Woog’s final
season as the Gophers’ coach. Of course, earlier this season
the Seawolves spent the week in Minneapolis between series at
Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State, Mankato, and practiced at
Mariucci Arena, so it’s not like they’ll be in unfamiliar
surroundings on Friday.
freshman goalie Kellen Briggs, a native of Colorado Springs,
has gotten a lot of attention since assuming his team’s
top spot between the pipes at mid-season. But don’t be surprised
if he gets edged out as the top freshman goalie in the WCHA by
another kid who knows a thing or two about Colorado Springs. Colorado
College freshman goalie Matt Zaba is currently the only
netminder in the conference with a goals-against average below
2.00. Zaba, who is from Yorkton, Sask., heads into the Tigers’
final six games with a 1.87 GAA, which places him in the top six
in the nation. More importantly, after CC won in Grand Forks for
the first time since 1998, the Tigers are only three points behind
Minnesota for the fifth and final home playoff spot.